Bin Zayed grew up witnessing the rapid transformation of the UAE from huts to Hilton hotels and skyscrapers. Along the way, his father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan, elder brother Khalifa and he learned two valuable lessons: the UAE cannot survive without outside protection and they need to remain strategically significant to keep mainly their Western allies interested and on board. Moreover, the country’s geographical location puts it between two regional powers that historically have shown an interest in controlling it.
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In addition to addressing its current fiscal woes, Bahraini authorities face the long-term challenge of boosting Bahrain’s regional competitiveness — especially regarding industry, finance, and tourism — and reconciling revenue constraints with popular pressure to maintain generous state subsidies and a large public sector.
Following the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011, he claimed that the regime of President Bashar al-Assad was responsible for creating the radical jihadist al-Nusra Front. However, he remains politically active, despite confirming Taymour as his political heir in March 2017. For example, he blamed Saudi Arabia for the resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri in November 2017.
For Russia, extending its hand to the region might indeed be useful; for Saudi Arabia, the decision appears more pragmatic as its once go-to allies for economic cooperation have been the US and Europe. However, the Saudis have several reasons to no longer trust the West and to seek support elsewhere.
MBS’ clampdown on religious militancy has been described as the first step towards disengagement between the Saudi regime and Wahhabism, which have been intertwined for centuries. However, political freedoms have not been affected by this change and remain restricted. In recent years, the regime has arrested dozens of political opponents, social media activists and those who express opinions contrary to the crown prince.
As part of the scheme, visitors can apply for a one-year, multiple-entry visa, allowing them to spend up to 90 days in Saudi Arabia, which previously only recognized business and invitation visas. On the new Visit Saudi, website, available in English, Arabic and Chinese, a slick video promotes the country’s natural and cultural attractions, featuring foreign-looking people, including women not wearing the abaya, the full-body robe required for local women.